Coleridge – “Definition” of Method

Method…becomes natural to the mind which has been accustomed to contemplate not things only, or for their sake alone, but likewise and chiefly the relations of things, either their relations to each other, or to the observer, or to the state and apprehension of the hearers.  To enumerate and analyze these relations, which the conditions under which they are discovered, is to teach the science of Method.


Coleridge is talking about the definition of Method, however, he dances around explicitly defining it.  He basically defines it as thinking about things and the relationships those things have with other things.

It reminds of me of Aristotle’s Voice where Jasper Neel talks about how Aristotle defines rhetoric in five vastly different ways: rhetoric as a counterpart of dialectic, rhetoric as a offshoot of dialectic, rhetoric as an offshoot of political science, rhetoric has something to do with dialectic, and/or rhetoric has nothing to do with dialectic.

As I think about this confusing definition of rhetoric, I am drawn to ask the question: are there, in Aristotle’s opinion, five different types of rhetoric.  If this is the case, then these are not contradictory definitions, they are definitions to different types of rhetoric.

I like that Coleridge does not explicitly define this Method because I think that it, like us, is organic.  It depends on us.  Everyone’s Method is as diverse and unique as their DNA.

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